IHRC Cuts Ties with Administrative Judge

An administrative law judge recently charged with her second offense for driving while intoxicated within a year will no longer do work for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission.

The judge, Kathryn Janeway Hostetter, is one of three people who have been handling disciplinary cases for the IHRC. Hostetter was appointed in 2008 to a four-year term as an administrative law judge for the commission. That contract expired in early 2012 and was renewed in mid-2012.

Hostetter, of Brownsburg, Ind., pleaded guilty in February 2012 of "operating a vehicle while intoxicated, endangering a person." Shortly thereafter, she was dismissed from her position as a deputy prosecutor for Hendricks County, and she was recently reprimanded for the violation of "engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice."

On Dec. 3, 2012, Hostetter was charged with a second offense of driving while intoxicated as well as with two additional traffic offenses.

Lea Ellingwood, general counsel for the IHRC, said Feb. 22 that the commission has contacted the state Supreme Court's disciplinary commission about the second arrest and will no longer be assigning any cases to Hostetter, although she remains under contract.

"We have taken action and are contemplating additional action," Ellingwood said. "She does not have any cases pending and, for all intents and purposes, she will not be conducting any more work for the horse racing commission."

Unlike Hostetter's first arrest, she failed to inform the commission of the second offense, as required under her contract, Ellingwood said.

The ability of Hostetter to have her contract extended and to continue to hear cases on behalf of the IHRC after her first conviction has drawn criticism from Indiana Breeder & Owner Protection. According to its website, the mission of IBOP "is to serve as an industry voice for breeders and owners participating in Indiana's horse racing programs with respect to current issues, regulations, trends, and the overall economic climate. Our goal is to attempt to protect and to improve overall conditions, including economic conditions, for those participating breeders and owners."

Jim Hartman, the IBOP vice president, recently began questioning Hostetter's ability to continue in her position with the horse racing commission, especially her handling of the high-profile case involving trainer Janey Adams. In that case, Adams was suspended 10 years after being found guilty of abuse and neglecting a horse in her care. That suspension was subsequently reduced to five years after a second hearing was conducted by Hostetter.

Hartman said he has concerns about the propriety of permitting Hostetter to sit in judgment of horsemen while at the same time having been convicted of her first alcohol-related driving offense. The contract signed by Hostetter in August stipulated that the signor not have any criminal offenses pending at the time.

"It is our position that those who knew about this should be held accountable for their actions," Hartman said. "There's a lot we want to understand about this issue, but primarily we want to understand if our racing commission holds themselves to lower standards than they expect of horsemen."

Ellingwood said that at the time Hostetter's contract was renewed, the judge did not have any criminal matters pending since she had pleaded guilty to the first offense. Also, Ellingwood said there were no questions raised about Hostetter's ability to do her job or complaints about her performance throughout 2012.

"We didn't have any intervening issue with the contract because there were no pending criminal matters," Ellingwood said. "We have received no complaints either from opposing counsel or from anybody observing the proceedings (heard by Hostetter). We have a very active commission that carefully vets all cases sent along for review."
 

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